Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hold my hand...

Please remember, while elves around
the globe are often described as miniature
people with pointy ears, in Iceland, they
can easily blend with the population!
Today I've revisited the email I received a year ago on applying to do a doctorate at Deakin University. Unfortunately, the passage of a year hasn't magically made applying easier. I still feel a lot of anxiety at writing out this rather short proposal (500-750 words).

The angst arises mostly from the reaction I received when I verbally described the novel I would be proposing to write and the lecturer I spoke to baulked at the idea of me writing a 'fantasy novel'.

Of course, the issue is that this isn't a fantasy novel, but rather a contemporary folklore novel about Icelandic elves in an Australian setting. The fact that Icelanders, well most of them, don't discount the existence of elves and therefore elves form part of urban legend in Iceland doesn't translate well into the Australian context where elves are more or less considered fictional.

So, basically, I want to discuss the transplanting of another culture's folklore tradition into the Australian context. Before I can write up the proposal, I have to research what others have written about this and that is where I falter. I still don't know where to start!

Do I start by finding other literary sources of contemporary folklore? Do I attempt to define contemporary folklore (the discussion of the definition of folklore itself is quite vast as far as I understand and all the references I've found so far are 50 years old!)? Do I try to find other examples of cultural traditions being transplanted into the Australian context, or even into other contexts outside of Australia?

And what sort of supervisor would I need for this kind of research? Someone who specialises in folklore? Someone who specialises in immigrant assimilation of traditions? Someone who specialises in Norse mythology?

I really need some sort of guidance or someone to hold my hand!


lyndaal said...

it sounds as though the lecturer you spoke to needs a bit more of an open mind - because as soon as i read that my first thought was honestly, 'how brilliant, i have never seen or heard of anything like that'.
i think in regards to your question - im not sure if you realised, but you answered it for yourself in the paragraph before where you wrote ' i need to research what others have written about this' which I took to mean, has it been done before, for the Icelandic culture, or for other cultures. And that seems somewhat logical, because that would add value and strength to your proposal?

Just some thoughts - I really wouldnt have much of an idea 6 years later im still trying to finish my undergrad degree LOL

Sif Dal said...

LOL, yeah, I sort of realised that when i read it back, but still, I guess I don't know who the main researchers in this area are - of there is even an area. I'm supposed to say how my research adds to the current body of research and how it is unique. I'm deadly afraid of missing some well known writings on this very topic because I really have no idea if anyone else has written about this and doing a search on Google Scholar hasn't thrown up anything remotely resembling the sort of things I want to talk about.

I think I need access to some other kind of data base, maybe journals or something, but it seems that i have to already have some sort of membership to these other data bases. I'm probably missing something very simple because surely you don't already have to be a student or lecturer to have access to data bases you need to become a student in the first place...

This is why I feel like i need someone to hold my hand!

Jayne said...

I'd do everything you said-Discuss the meaning of folklore in general and the way you intend to present it. I'd personally put a big emphasis on the cultural stuff bc I thnk that way you'll encounter the least resistance about the fantasy thing. It does suck that they are closed to it. Then again, you talked to one person-others might have a different outlook.

I can come over one day maybe next week and you can login on my account and have a look around the databases if you like?

Sif Dal said...

Oh, that would be great, Jayne... I'm not sure if I'll find anything, but it's at least a place to start!

Sif Dal said...

Actually, or maybe I could meet you at uni, that way you can do whatever work you need to do, too... If that suits you better.

Jayne said...

Yep-I'll be there tomorrow au think doing a coffee meet-come on down in the morning beforehand (12 pm) if you like?

Sif Dal said...

Sorry, do you mean I should get there at 12pm or before 12pm?

Jayne said...

Before -I have the coffee meet at 12(not sure if anyone will turn up but have to be around jic-maybe meet me at 11.30 or so? I'll try get there early ish and get a computer...or might bring my laptop

Sif Dal said...

No worries :)

Good Job!